"Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties."
- Gail Sheehy
My cheek is dotted with a line of blemishes. Why, you ask? Because I spent most of Saturday morning, when I wasn’t typing, with a thumb against my cheek (pondering pose). Writer’s hazard, but totally worth it. That’s because:
I COMPLETED THE ROUGH DRAFT OF MY NAKED EYE MANUSCRIPT!
(It’s hovering around 65k)
Recap: I’ve done this manuscript slower than ever. After conceiving of the idea last spring, wrote a chapter or two. I spent the summer editing other work. When I picked it back up in the fall, I didn’t do much because I wrote two short stories. Then came the full-time job.
No time. No energy.
But I made a few pushes.
And when I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about my writing. Even though I’m still a panster, I developed the next scenes in my head. Though there were plenty of surprises as I wrote, including whole scenes I didn’t envision.
And for the first time, I gave 3 chapters at a time to a critique buddy so she could give me impressions.
How-to write books will say not to do this. Something about creativity fighting with an inner editor.
I’ll tell you another secret. Each time I sit to write for all pieces, I ALWAYS read what I wrote the previous writing session. (And I fix things. Shhhh!) It’s the best way to remember exactly what I wrote, so I keep the flow and the voice.
The reason I pass along bits at a time to my buddy is because if something isn’t clear and needs fixing, and could potentially create a problem throughout the entire manuscript, why not find out NOW? This 2nd set of eyes early on appears to have made my novel tighter. (Obviously delusional...)
Just the other day on Facebook, someone was beside herself because her critique group told her that her YA manuscript didn’t have a teen voice. I bet it would’ve helped her to know that after chapter 3 instead of at The End.
For every author who writes, there is a different style of writing. There’s no formula. Just because something works for most authors most of the time, doesn’t mean it works for me. Or you.
Guidelines are just that. Guidelines.
Write 1k words everyday. Drink 8 glasses of water a day.
There are mechanics of writing, and we’ve gotta know that. There’s grammar, plotting, show and not tell. But this is a creative endeavor we’re doing here. Voice, characterization, dialogue - we’re going to have our own stamps for this stuff.
Tahereh Mafi wrote an excellent POST explaining her method to writing and revising.
…before i got a book deal, a lot of people were telling me i was doing it wrong. people would tell me it wasn't possible to write a decent draft in such a short period of time, that it wasn't possible to be a pantser and write a cohesive novel not filled with plot holes and glaring errors. in short, i became convinced i was writing incorrectly. but i soon discovered that there is no incorrect way to write a novel. my efforts to change these things about myself didn't work. they weren't organic to me and what i needed to do. they were forced and unnatural. i had to revert back to what was comfortable for me.
Good thing she believed in herself. She’s 23 years old and will soon publish her debut novel Shatter Me. And, oh yeah, I think there’s already talk of a movie. So….
We can inhale how-to books,
Scour agents and editor blogs,
Read posts of published authors with a microscope -
Truth is, this whole writing endeavor is a lot of reading, writing, revising. And instinct. The more we read, write, and revise, the better our instincts become.
Then we just need faith. And a bit of luck – right place at the right time.
What writing processes work for you?